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Thursday, Sep 23, 2021

Where are They Now? Newt Technologies, Winners of Next Big Idea Competition 2018

Last year, Jonathan Kent and Brandon Hancock won the Next Big Idea Competition, a contest providing Mercer University students with capital and guidance in starting a business.

Their company is Newt Technologies, and their creation is a knee monitoring product called the Newt Knee, a device that passively registers movement of patients that have undergone surgery. It accumulates details such as range of motion of the knee joint, which can help the physical therapists who work with these patients.

“We end up winning, and one of the biggest challenges we were gonna face is the amount of capital required to bring this product to market,” Hancock said.

The ability to monitor patients’ progress can help physical therapists come up with solutions to the mobility problem.

“You can’t fix it if you don’t measure it,” Hancock said.

After graduation, the Newt Technologies team scouted for venture capitalists in need of capital. They were introduced by a mutual friend to a company also in the physical therapy niche, whose name remains private for the sake of confidentiality.

When asked about how the Mercer Innovation Center has prepared the business for life after college, Hancock was grateful.

“John and I were extremely blessed,” he said. “The Innovation Center as a whole--I really don’t think people give enough credit for the help they give. Robo Hatcher, Stephanie Howard, literally everyone at the MIC is phenomenal.”

Hancock continued to praise the program even when asked about the negatives of the Next Big Idea competition. “That’s a hard question, they’ve done a phenomenal job. If you need help with pitches, finances, idea[s], the network is there. It’s really just talking to everyone and connecting the dots.”

Hancock said the fact that he graduated with a computer engineer degree and Kent with an electrical engineering degree benefited the team immensely with their product.

Hancock said he advises aspiring entrepreneurs to talk to people.

“Even if you’re talking to people who aren’t in the field, they might know a friend of a friend,” he said. “Every time you hear a problem, that’s a business.”

Kent and Hancock currently work full-time jobs together, are both pursuing master’s degrees in software and are working with the partner company to bring the Newt Knee to new shelves.

“We’ll take on the world side by side,” Hancock said.

Applications for the Big Idea Competition in 2019 are now open through the Mercer Innovation Center.


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